First frost

This morning’s dog-walk was glorious, with frosted grass making the fields twinkle in the sunlight. It’s not crispy yet; the ground is still squishy and slippery under the dusting of icing. But the wintry signs are appearing, and there are three jobs I need to get on with this week.

Frosty fields

Frosty view over the fields

This summer I decided penstemons would feature in my 2015 garden, so I bought a dozen seedlings from Hayloft and stuck them in the ground. I’ve read that they can be a bit tender, and our garden is quite exposed, so I need to take steps to protect them.

Leaving this year’s foliage on until spring is supposed to help protect the important crowns. But my plants haven’t had time to bulk up yet, so I’m going to mulch them with a pile of bark chips too.

I’ll do the same with some of my dahlias at the allotment – Bishop’s Children – which have unexpectedly developed great big tubers after growing them from seed this year. Our soil is very free-draining, so [I’ve read] they might be OK with a good layer of protection on top.

However, I’m also going to try lifting and storing a few as recommended – in a shallow box in compost in a frost-free place. Both approaches are an experiment for me, I’ve never grown dahlias before and didn’t expect this variety to be perennial – but their colour is so intense, great for cutting, and the bees like their open blooms, so they’re worth the effort.

Bishop's Children dahlias in vase

Bishop’s Children blooms alongside Cosmos Purity, making my summer cider all the better.

Finally, I’ve accumulated various young plants grown from collected seeds (Sweet Williams from my Mum, Aquilegia from seedheads in a hedgerow) or purchased from Hayloft Plants and I’m sure these will need protection. The Fella knocked up a coldframe in the summer, so I’ll cosy them up in there for winter.

DIY coldframe

Mr MBaF building a coldframe from reclaimed decking boards and windows

Seedlings

My growing nursery

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